Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.

Before moving to India, Lauren was a regular freelance contributor to NPR for seven years, based in Madrid. During that time, she substituted for NPR bureau chiefs in Seoul, London, Istanbul, Islamabad, and Jerusalem. She also served as a guest host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

In Europe, Lauren chronicled the economic crisis in Spain & Portugal, where youth unemployment spiked above 50%. She profiled a Portuguese opera singer-turned protest leader, and a 90-year-old survivor of the Spanish Civil War, exhuming her father's remains from a 1930s-era mass grave. From Paris, Lauren reported live on NPR's Morning Edition, as French police moved in on the Charlie Hebdo terror suspects. In the fall of 2015, Lauren spent nearly two months covering the flow of migrants & refugees across Hungary & the Balkans – and profiled a Syrian rapper among them. She interviewed a Holocaust survivor who owed his life to one kind stranger, and managed to get a rare interview with the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders – by sticking her microphone between his bodyguards in the Hague.

Farther afield, she introduced NPR listeners to a Pakistani TV evangelist, a Palestinian surfer girl in Gaza, and K-pop performers campaigning in South Korea's presidential election.

Lauren has also contributed to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the BBC.

Her international career began in the Middle East, where she was an editor on the Associated Press' Middle East regional desk in Cairo, and covered the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Syria and southern Lebanon. In 2007, she spent a year embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, an assignment for which the AP nominated her and her colleagues for a Pulitzer Prize.

On a break from journalism, Lauren drove a Land Rover across Africa for a year, from Cairo to Cape Town, sleeping in a tent on the car's roof. She once made the front page of a Pakistani newspaper, simply for being a woman commuting to work in Islamabad on a bicycle.

Born and raised in a suburb of New York City, Lauren holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from The College of William & Mary in Virginia. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, rusty French and Arabic, and is now learning Hindi.

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Sometimes the call comes from a teenage girl.

She is pleading for help, "saying her parents are trying to get her married but she wants to stay in school," says Vijay Muttur.

He's the child protection officer in the town of Solapur in south-central India. After India went under a coronavirus lockdown in late March, his phone has been ringing off the hook. He's hearing from girls under the age of 18, from village elders, from social activists and child-care workers.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper are both in India's capital today. They signed military agreements and pushed the Trump administration's anti-China message. NPR's Lauren Frayer has details.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRUMPETS)

Many Indians are tweeting support Wednesday for Kamala Harris, celebrating their connection to the new presumptive Democratic nominee for vice president, whose mother was from India.

Harris is not only the first woman of color to appear on a major U.S. presidential ticket, but she is also the first person of South Asian descent.

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The world's biggest coronavirus lockdown has been extended for 19 more days.

India's 1.3 billion residents have been under lockdown for the past three weeks. Restrictions were set to expire at midnight Tuesday (2:30 p.m. ET). But in a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Indians will have to stay home through May 3.

Under lockdown, well-off Indians isolate indoors, work from home and get groceries delivered.

But outside their windows, it's a different story: Poor laborers amass in the streets, hungry and homeless.

In a video posted on Twitter, a woman calls down to a crowd of people gathering below her window. They yell back up to her, desperate: "There are 400 of us here without food. We need help. There are lots of children."

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With a fraction of the hospital beds and ventilators per capita of developed countries, Indian doctors and public health experts warn an explosion of coronavirus cases could overwhelm their hospitals on a greater scale than what's happening in Italy and the United States — and lead to many millions of deaths.

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Updated at 9 a.m. ET

"America loves India, America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people," President Trump told a cheering crowd of more than 100,000 people in India's huge Motera cricket stadium on Monday.

"From this day on, India will always hold a very special place in our hearts," Trump said. He referred to his host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as "a man I am proud to call my true friend."

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On Dec. 26 last year, in a town surrounded by tea and rubber plantations in central Sri Lanka, residents discovered Buddhist statues had been vandalized on the side of the road. In the middle of the night, some saw young men speeding away on motorbikes after they'd shattered glass cases protecting the statues and hacked off the stone and marble Buddhas' noses and hands.

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Before dawn Friday, police transported four suspects to the scene of a crime that has outraged their nation: A roadside in southern India, where the men are accused of gang-raping a woman, suffocating her and setting her body on fire.

The woman's Nov. 27 murder sparked protests and candlelight vigils across India. Within 48 hours, police had arrested the four, their brutality allegedly caught on CCTV cameras.

Police said they needed to question the suspects at the crime scene — before daybreak — to have them retrace their steps and collect more evidence.

On a roadside in northern Sri Lanka, a dozen women in bright-colored saris squat in the shade of an open canvas tent, waving tattered photographs at passing cars. They're school portraits, now yellowing, of their children who disappeared more than a decade ago in the country's civil war.

The women weep and nod as each tells her own son's or daughter's story. Kasipillai Romee was 16. She wanted to be a doctor. Sheeva Kumar was 20. He went to work and never came home. Rajendran Uday was 22 when soldiers came at midnight and took him away.

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The rains were late in parts of India this year, but the monsoon has finally arrived. It's bringing welcome relief from the heat but also some dangers. NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Mumbai where they got more than a foot of rain in 24 hours.

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It looks like a landslide victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India. Votes are still being counted today after elections that lasted six weeks. NPR's Lauren Frayer has been following all of it, and she joins us live from Mumbai.

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Early vote results show a landslide victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India. Votes are being counted today after elections that lasted six weeks. NPR's Lauren Frayer has been following it and joins us from Mumbai.

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A husband and wife. A pair of brothers from a wealthy, upper-class family. A man with a law degree. Another who studied in the United Kingdom and did postgraduate work in Australia, before coming home to settle down in his native Sri Lanka.

Those are the profiles emerging Wednesday, according to Sri Lankan officials and local media, of the suicide bombers who killed more than 350 people in sophisticated, coordinated attacks on churches and hotels there on Easter Sunday. If the Islamic State's claim of responsibility is true, it would be the group's deadliest terror attack.

Tens of millions of Hindus took a ritual dip in the Ganges River this winter as part of the largest religious festival in the world — the Kumbh Mela. For centuries, the festival has been held in various cities in northern India, including Allahabad.

But when pilgrims arrived this year for the Kumbh Mela, Allahabad had a different name.

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